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What factors do courts consider when deciding custody?

On Behalf of | Nov 2, 2022 | Child Custody

When New Jersey parents of minor children divorce, the court makes a decision about custody. There are certain factors the judge will consider when deciding whether one or both parents should get custody of their child.

Child/parent relationships

The court prefers for the child to maintain their relationship with both parents. As a result, when deciding on parenting time, the judge will examine the family dynamic. If the child’s relationship with both parents has always been strong and healthy, the court might give them both custody.

Parents’ ability to meet the child’s needs

When child custody is to be determined, the court considers each parent’s ability to meet the child’s needs as a top priority. In some cases, one parent is considered the primary caretaker who ensures that the child is able to provide for the child’s emotional, medical, educational and basic needs.

Parents’ histories

Both parents’ full medical histories are taken into account by the court. The judge wants to know that each parent is medically sound and capable of having parenting time with the child. If a parent has a serious medical condition, the court will determine whether they are able to have custody.

If a parent has a history of addiction or abuse, it’s a factor that might impact their chances at custody.

Parents’ living situations

Both parents’ living situations are heavily considered in custody cases. The judge wants to ensure that the home is a safe environment for the child and that the parent has a room available for the child’s use. The home doesn’t necessarily have to be a large house; the court is usually open to awarding custody even if the parent lives in a small apartment as long as the child has their own space and would be safe there.

When courts decide custody, the biggest factor is what’s in the child’s best interests.